At Big Green Purse, we encourage consumers to shift their spending to the greenest products and services available. But another great way to use our marketplace clout is by creating our OWN green businesses. Here are 5 green business opportunities you probably never thought of but could be perfect for you if you want to do well and do good at the same time.
5 Green Business Opportunities
#1 Organic Catering Service
If you love to cook and have a passion for healthy food and the environment, then why not start an organic catering company?
Serve organic produce grown locally, along with fresh free-range meats and organic dairy products if you want to include those on your menu. Or, create several menus that include vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free.
Make your operations sustainable by offering washable table cloths, napkins, place settings and cutlery, and reusable condiment containers. Skip plastic products, including straws and disposable cups (especially polystyrene hot/cold cups). Compost food waste or donate leftover food to a homeless shelter or food pantry.
One appeal of this business is that you can start small and with very little up-front capital.
Begin by providing the food only for a size crowd you can cook for without investing in a large kitchen and lots of supplies. Getting an advance for the food will cover your purchase costs; get full payment upon delivery of the food so that you can pay outstanding expenses and your labor costs immediately.
Initially, partner with a party supplies vendor so they can provide the linens and table service. Eventually, you can acquire those supplies and charge a fee to cover their expense, cleaning and replacement. Also, hire help in the kitchen, delivery and set-up as you need it. As you grow, you can hire marketing staff, cooks, and additional help.
#2 Eco-friendly Landscaping Service
If you relish the outdoors and thrive in Nature, consider becoming an eco-friendly landscaper. Eco-friendly landscapers can help property owners design with Nature in mind. The most eco-friendly landscapes use less water, prioritize native plants over grassy lawns that may require a lot of fertilizer and pesticides, and include a flower and/or vegetable garden. They also include water features to help sustain birds and bees.
If you don’t know as much about plants as you should, find a partner. Check with your local botanic garden or the sales staff at the local garden center, many of whom have become plant experts during their careers selling plants to the public. Or, partner with a nursery that propagates and sells native plants.
You can also take a course at your county extension service in landscape design, native plants, or other courses that can help you build your expertise.
Alternatively, work on the marketing and promotion end of this business, partnering with a plant expert while you do the selling. Or, develop on-line garden design programs. A web-based business is among the cheapest way to get into business for yourself.
#3 Green, Non-Toxic Beauty
The media has done an impressive job of bringing the need for alternative beauty products to our attention. Salon-quality vegan and organic beauty products are now available; everything from skin care products, to shampoo and even cosmetics, are going green and avoiding synthetic chemicals and unethical testing. While you could open an organic beauty salon, this is expensive to get off the ground, as you need to rent a location, stock it with pricey equipment and products, and hire people to provide the services.
As an alternative, become an affiliate of a company like Miessence or Beauty Counter. Like the Avon model, you earn income by selling the company’s products to your own list of customers. The amount of money you earn is directly in proportion to how actively you market the products.
Start-up is immediate and apart from your initial product investment, you have no overhead as you don’t maintain a storefront or a big inventory.
#4 Sustainable Event Planning Services
Corporate events waste an incredible amount of resources and cost a lot of money to host. A green event planning service focuses on reducing unnecessary costs and limiting the impact on local resources by reducing the use of paper and plastic.
Start by schooling yourself in the ins and outs of event planning, which you can do here. Realize that there is a “green” version of most of the supplies needed to pull off a successful event. Developing web-based tools like online event agendas and mobile apps will reduce the need for paper-based printed programs, reports and other materials.
#5 Solar/Wind Energy Consultant
Many consumers would like to use more solar and wind power but they’re just not sure what systems or services work best for them. Develop a consulting practice to help consumers figure out what their energy needs are, what systems would help them meet those needs, and how much they cost.
You don’t need to provide the actual installation. You do need to know what systems and companies you can recommend depending on your clients’ needs. So while you’ll need to invest time in building your expertise, the up front operating costs will be minimal, consisting primarily of marketing your services via a website and social media. If you have no initial clients, offer to help some neighbors at no cost until you get up and running.
Finding Green Finance
Starting and running a new business doesn’t have to drain your finances – as long as you’re smart about budgeting, cost projections, and income streams.
If you do need a loan to your business off the ground, keep in mind that you’ll need a full assessment of your finances and credit-worthy status before you go down that route.
I’ve personally found that my bank manager has been very helpful in looking at my business accounts and projections.
I urge you to speak to your own banking manager about whether you should request a loan to help you through the start-up phase of the business cycle.
If you don’t want to take a loan from a bank, look for a reputable angel investing network that will give you access to investors looking for green opportunities.
If you only need a small amount of capital to get going, think about a loan from a family member or friend.
You can sell them shares in your company in return for the investment. Structure a “waterfall” deal that enables you to repurchase your shares as you reach financial milestones and business goals.
Once you decide on your business model, speak to your accountant or financial planner before proceeding. And to stay inspired on your journey, make sure to keep up with new green initiatives in your marketplace as your business grows.